TechRomanian Air Force gears up for major upgrade with dozens of F-16 fighters by 2024

Romanian Air Force gears up for major upgrade with dozens of F‑16 fighters by 2024

Romanian F-16 in flight
Romanian F-16 in flight
Images source: © Romanian Armed Forces
12:32 PM EST, January 9, 2024

Defense Minister Angel Tilvar of Romania said, "We will receive 32 F-16 fighters. The first three aircraft arrived on December 19th. We have a timeline for the arrival of the rest of this equipment, and our plan is to have them all by 2025."

These F-16 fighters were purchased from Norway for approximately 388 million euros ($463 million). As the United States manufactures these aircraft, their consent was necessary for this transfer. Romania has signed a contract with the American company Lockheed Martin to supply additional components for the fighters, including advanced electronic systems.

Upon finalization of the agreement with Norway and receipt of the F-16s, Romania will have 49 such fighters, including the 17 units previously acquired from Portugal. These fighters will form three squadrons, allowing Romania to phase out its Soviet-era MiG-21s completely. Defense Minister Angel Tilvar emphasized the excellent condition of the purchased aircraft and stated that the F-16 is a well-known fighter across the globe and will remain in NATO country armies for an extended period.

The F-16 is a fighter aircraft approximately 49.2 feet in length, capable of reaching speeds up to Mach 2 (over 1,301 mph). Its range is about 1,988.4 miles in the base configuration, which can be extended to approximately 2,620.7 miles with additional fuel tanks. The aircraft can operate at altitudes of up to 49,212.5 feet.

One key advantage of this fighter is its capability to carry a broad range of armaments. It can carry, among other things, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-65 Maverick, or AGM-84D Harpoon and Penguin anti-ship missiles. It can also carry CBU-87, CBU-89, GBU-10, GBU-12, Paveway, or JDAM bombs. It is equipped with a standard 20mm six-barrel M61 Vulcan cannon.

For Romania, these F-16s also represent a stepping stone towards the acquisition of the more modern F-35s. While the United States has already consented to their purchase, it will take a while before they reach the Black Sea. It is estimated that the F-16s purchased in Norway are going to serve effectively for another 10-15 years.

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